27th January 2023
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S Sudan still not combatting human trafficking, says US

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Monday, July 5, 2021

File: Some displaced people from Mukaya, Yei River County | Credit | facebook/John Bida

The United States has maintained that South Sudan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.

This is because it says the government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any traffickers for the ninth consecutive year.

Human traffickers are said to have continued to exploit domestic and foreign victims in South Sudan, as traffickers exploit victims from South Sudan abroad.

South Sudanese women and girls, particularly those from rural areas or who are internally displaced, are also said to be vulnerable to domestic servitude throughout the country.

According to the Department of State, the government of South Sudan has not made significant efforts to address trafficking in persons even considering the documented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic, it added, has worsened the population’s vulnerability to exploitation, compounding already severe economic challenges.

It said child, early, and forced marriage remains a nationwide problem, with families forcing some girls into marriages as compensation for inter-ethnic killings in South Sudan.

In the report published on July 3, the Department of State disclosed that there remained a government policy or pattern of employing or recruiting child soldiers in South Sudan.

It identified government security and law enforcement officers as having continued to recruit and use child soldiers, at times by force, and did not hold any members of the SSPDF or the South Sudan National Police Services criminally accountable for these unlawful acts.

Experts note more children fight on behalf of locally organized armed groups rather than formally organized groups with centralized command and control structures.

International observers reported groups recruited and used child soldiers in Central and Western Equatoria, Unity, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Greater Upper Nile.

Observers also reported armed groups used young boys to guard or raid cattle, a key source of income for many South Sudanese.

The report further said authorities did not report investigating or prosecuting any forced labor or sex trafficking crimes for the ninth consecutive year.

It said, in 2020, the government has not proactively identified and protect trafficking victims, and did not report identifying any victims.

The U.S Department of State also asserted that the government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.

It, however, noted that despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including convening its anti-trafficking inter-ministerial task force consistently, cooperating with an international organization to release approximately 189 child soldiers, and launching a nation-wide awareness campaign.

In its recommendation, the U.S government called for an end to all recruitment and use of children by government forces and associated militias.

It called for the training of law enforcement and social workers to identify trafficking victims, particularly among vulnerable groups such as children, individuals in commercial sex, and internally displaced persons.

This should also include training law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges—including officials serving on the Gender-Based Violence and Juvenile Court—on the 2008 Child Act, 2008 Penal Code, and 2018 Labor Act.

It believes this will help officials effectively investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including military officials complicit in the unlawful recruitment, use, and sexual exploitation of children.

The Department of State further urged South Sudan to increase funding and human resources for the Technical Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons.

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